Tracer Study - PARAGUAY

This report describes the research carried out in Paraguay following the methodology of tracer study. The research aimed to study the impact occurred in the life of former child beneficiaries of actions programmes implemented by IPEC projects in domestic labour and commercial sexual exploitation sectors.

The study was carried out in Paraguay during the first semester of 2011. It focuses on action programmes (AP) implemented e between 2002 and 2007 by eight IPEC partners in the in the sectors of child domestic work (CDW) and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). This qualitative-based research is built upon the analysis of 24 cases using the primary sources of the testimonies of AP former beneficiaries, their family members and relatives as well as local AP and communities’ resource people.

The main goal of this study is to describe and explain changes in the life of former beneficiaries, identifying the influence of the interventions on their current situation. The qualitative research seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the facts based on the determination of a diversity of situations, patterns and commonalities as well as the potential influence of action programmes on those changes.

A first relevant aspect that was found was of the withdrawal of child labour and situations of exploitation, both immediately, i.e. at the time of the AP implementation, and gradually. Even if this is not absolute, it is possible to conclude that the programs were an opportunity for former beneficiaries helping them to be redirected to other forms of work, free of exploitation, to obtain tools, take up their studies again or continue in school.

Important changes in schooling were also detected, such as the possibility to resume studies previously dropped, regulate school attendance, reinforce school performance and access vocational training. In cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), which generally involve less advantaged children, results are less significant than in the child domestic work (CDW) context, many of whom were already in the formal education system. In some cases, children have been able to keep studying after primary and secondary education, getting a technical higher training or even university education.

In spite of being removed from child labour and previous conditions of exploitation, many times former beneficiaries have not been able to access non-precarious work situations offering a tangible way out of poverty. This obstacle constitutes the main limitation of AP: facing the challenge of removing children from exploitation and hazardous work. In the CDW cases studied it must be pointed out that the job placements were found out of CDW, even if some children were referred to related activities like cooking. On the contrary, in CSEC cases, CDW was often perceived as one of the few ways out, especially by young girls and young women.

Participation in AP is sometimes considered as a milestone in the life of the beneficiaries: it offers them support, contact with people interested in their well-being and new possibilities. It is especially important as sometimes it is the first time that those children experience a human bond other than abuse and exploitations. AP provided them with an opportunity to break away from the idea of an inexorable fate and to hope for a change in their life.

AP’s intervention has most certainly allowed the former beneficiaries and also their family members and relatives to get familiar with the idea of rights and the rights that they are entitled to. In fact, most of them express their agreement on the inadmissibility of child labour and that it must be prevented. In fact, except for a few cases, individuals who benefited from AP stated that they would not allow their own children to work in child labour or to live in similar conditions. In this respect, AP should be considered as a chance to break the cycle inexorably linking poverty to child labour and child exploitation, opening new prospects and perspectives in the lives of these people.

Finally, the research shows a positive vision of AP effects on the above mentioned areas, in spite of the many limitations that arose.